Everyone deserves the chance to experience and enjoy our waterways. At the Coalition, we’ve discovered that those who get out on the river are also more inclined to engage in its long-term care.
The Problem: High-speed watercraft present a safety hazard to non-motorized vessels, bank fishermen, swimmers, and other river recreationists. In recent years, citizens have seen a higher number of jet skis and jet boats on the rivers near Missoula. Local conservation groups are concerned that a continued increase in motorized watercraft will cause harmful impact to water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and damage the overall river experience for others. In addition, motorized craft have become more powerful over the years and more adaptable to smaller water bodies. We expect that trend to continue.
The Impacts: High-speed motorized recreation on rivers can cause shoreline erosion from wakes, degradation of sensitive trout habitat, disturbance of the feeding or nesting patterns of birds, frogs and turtles, and higher potential for gas spills and other water pollutions. A 1991 study by the Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit found that jet-driven boats were destroying salmon redds—or fish eggs—because of the more frequent discharge and displacement of gravel. Motorized watercraft are also another vector for potentially spreading aquatic invasive species between rivers and lakes. Plus, the increase in high-speed motorized use can pose safety hazards for other river users, putting swimmers, anglers, and non-motorized boaters at risk for collisions on the water.
The Solution: Local conservation groups support the Quiet Waters initiative. FWP making proactive decisions about the types of uses on our waterways can avoid ugly conflicts in the future, protect traditional and safe Montana recreational uses, and assures that water dependent wildlife and fish have secure habitats for the future. The Quiet Waters Initiative essentially preserves the status quo, preventing a proliferation of motor craft in places where either motor craft or high speeds aren’t appropriate. Not taking action invites user conflicts, unsafe and highly risky conditions, and can damage fish and wildlife habitats. Montana FWP is taking comments on the Quiet Waters initiative until February 12, click here to make your voice heard.
Learn more! Hear about the initiative from Jeff Lukas from the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and find out how you can make your voice heard! Wed. Feb. 8, 5:15 pm (Clark Fork Coalition office, 140 S. 4th St. West).
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